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Ireland 00:00 South Africa

Coach Declan Kidney believes Ireland have an exciting blend of youth and experience in their back division

Last Updated: 30/01/13 6:45am

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Ireland supremo Declan Kidney believes Ireland have an exciting blend of youth and experience in their back division as they prepare to take on Wales in their RBS Six Nations opener.

Young, fleet-footed wingers Craig Gilroy and Simon Zebo - who have only four caps between them - are very much the new kids on the block when compared to the centre partnership of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy who boast nearly 200 international appearances between them.

Kidney feels the injection of youth has lifted spirits in the camp and is hoping his side can build on their last performance - a convincing 46-24 triumph over Argentina in November.

"The younger guys were buzzing around the camp in November and that has carried on into this month," stated the Ireland coach.

"A couple of the more senior players are starting to feel their age with the younger fellas around them.

Mix

"Look at the back line and the numbers - it's like the lotto. You've got one, 120, 71 and three in terms of the number of caps. There's a mix of experience."

One of Kidney's toughest calls was the make-up of his back-row to face Wales with fit-again former European player of the year Sean O'Brien significantly strengthening his hand.

Ultimately O'Brien got the nod to return alongside number eight, and new skipper, Jamie Heaslip, while Munster's Peter O'Mahony edged out Ulster's Chris Henry for the blindside spot.

"It was bit of a call. In terms of a mix as a starting back row, we felt Peter, Jamie (Heaslip) and Sean would be good for us. Chris' performances did make it a topic of conversation," Kidney said.

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